Category Archives: SONGS

Elvis’ Special Christmas Radio Program

Elvis Special Christmas Program Reel-to-reel Tape

Do you know what this is? Until this week, I had never seen it, so it was a surprise to me. Here’s a newspaper clipping that will give you an idea.


3,00 Stations Carrying Elvis Special Christmas Radio Program

The year was 1967, and Col. Parker dreamed up the idea for the Elvis Presley Special Christmas Program. A year later, Elvis would present his famous TV special, but this one was for radio. The picture above is a reel-to-reel tape recorded by RCA that Parker had sent to radio stations all over the country.


At this point, Elvis had recorded just one album of Christmas music: Elvis’ Christmas Album in 1957:

Elvis' Christmas Album


For the special, they used six of the twelve songs on it:

Here Comes Santa Claus
Blue Christmas
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Silent Night
I’ll Be Home for Christmas
I Believe


In June 1966, Elvis recorded the single If Every day Was Like Christmas, and it also appeared on the Special Christmas Program:

Elvis Presley - I wish Every Day Could be Christmas


The radio special also included the title songs of these two albums:

Elvis Presley - How Great Thou Art


Elvis Presley - His Hand in Mine


But the special had more than just songs. Here is the sequence as shown on the box came in:

Elvis Special Christmas Program Sequence

Everything was planned out: a five-second musical intro, then the disc jockey talks for 27 seconds, then a song, and so on.


Elvis Special Christmas Program Season's Greetings from Elvis

This is the front page of the complete DJ script for the special. Here are the rest.

Elvis Special christmas Programming Script Page 1

Elvis Special Christmas Program Script Page 2

Note that the tape included a long message from actor Dale Robertson for Christmas Seals.

1967 Christmas Seals


The script frequently reminds listeners to buy those Elvis Christmas and sacred albums at their local record dealers.

Elvis Special christmas Program Script Page 3
There were no breaks for regular ads, but the DJ script got in plugs for Elvis records and even his current movie Clambake. I believe Col. Parker wrote this script, and he got his name into the text twice. He also was clever to allow one minute at the end of the program for local public-service announcements.


Elvis Special Christmas Program Poster

This is a poster that went out to record stores to promote the special. It says “more than 2,000 stations” but the news article above says 3,000. I guess the number was hard to determine because airing the special was up to the stations. However, to help motivate them, Col. Parker sent station managers 100 Elvis Presley Christmas cards, fifty 1968 Elvis Presley calendars, a package of Christmas Seals, and catalogs of Elvis albums and 8-track tape cartridges. That would have motivated me.

Graceland is big on celebrating anniversaries of all things Elvis. Maybe next year they will present a 50th Anniversary edition of this radio special. With today’s technology, they could have George Klein do the DJ part and offer it as a new download available through an app to our smart phones. That would be cool, too.



© 2016 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved



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Elvis is Dead, Long Live the Beatles

 Elvis is Dead Long Live the Beatles

The above picture shows 13 Year old Irene Katz holding a sign on Feb. 9, 1964, the third day of the Beatles’ blitz of America. She was outside the Plaza Hotel in New York City, along with hundreds of screaming young girls, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Beatles.

Unless you live in a cave, you are well aware the recent media buzz about the 50th anniversary of the Beatles coming to America and appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show.

 Beatles on Ed Sullivan


No question about it – the Beatles were hot during their two-week stay in the ‘states’ in February 1964. And, unfortunately, Elvis was not. Let’s take a look at the stature of Elvis’ career fifty years ago during the Beatles’ invasion.


Hit Singles:

Elvis had a Top Ten hit, “Bossa Nova Baby,” at the end of 1963, and in March 1964 “Kissin’ Cousins” was released, eventually moving up to # 12. But Elvis had absolutely nothing on the charts in February 1964.

On the other hand, that month was huge for the Beatles, who had three hits going at once: “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” I Saw Her Standing There,” and “She Loves Me.”

Hit Albums:

Elvis fared better here — briefly. Elvis’ Golden Hits, Volume 3 came out in late September 1963. It had a twenty week run on the Billboard Top 40 Album Charts, which carried it into the first two weeks of February 1964.

Elvis' Golden Records, Volume 3

So, technically, that topped the Beatles. Their first US album, Meet the Beatles, was released on their second day in the country, February 8. After that, it probably outsold the Elvis hits album by a about million to one, but it wasn’t until the following week that those sales were reflected in the chart rankings.


Elvis Movies:

This was another lull period for Elvis. Fun in Acapulco opened in very late November 1963 and was gone from the theaters by the following February.

It’s too bad Viva Las Vegas didn’t premier two months earlier than it did, or Elvis would have had one big success going for him while the Beatles were here.


What Elvis Did While the Beatles Ruled:

He took an extended vacation to Las Vegas, bringing several Memphis Mafia buddies with him: Joe Esposito, Alan Fortas, Richard Davis, Billy Smith and Marty Lacker. Plus wives and girlfriends. Elvis and this large group took in many shows, including Fats Domino, Della Reese, Don Rickles and Tony Martin.

Colonel Parker probably was back in Tennessee, but he had the good sense to send the Beatles a congratulatory telegram signed by Elvis & The Colonel.

Elvis Congratulates the Beatles.


So, while the Beatles took America by storm, Elvis laid low. He would continue making movies for four more years, but then he started his famed resurrection. First, the ’68 Comeback Special. Then the landmark recording sessions at American Sound Studios that produced huge hits like “In the Ghetto,” “Suspicious Minds,” and “Don’t Cry Daddy.” And the biggest factor of all, his return to live performance in August 1969 at the Las Vegas International Hotel.

Elvis at the International Hotel 1969


A year later, the Beatles broke up, but Elvis continued to set attendance records in Las Vegas and on tours around the country. So, Elvis wasn’t really dead in 1964, and the Beatles didn’t live that long.

Long Live the King


© 2013 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved


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Elvis on the Rolling Stone Lists

Elvis on Rolling Stone  July 12, 1969

Elvis looks pretty good on the cover of this 1969 Rolling Stone issue, doesn’t he? He’s been on four others that I could find, plus several more featuring collages of rock artists. Of course, the magazine didn’t start until 1967, so it missed the years when Elvis ruled the world and was on the cover of all sorts of magazines.

Rolling Stone has also published dozens of articles about Elvis, many of them timed to mark a significant birthday or anniversary of his death. And, Elvis has shown up on ten of the famous Rolling Stone lists, like this one they got completely wrong:


100 Greatest Singers of All Time:

Elvis on Rolling Stone - 100 Greatest Singers November 22, 2008

By the looks of this cover, you’d think Elvis was selected #1. Maybe he is #1 for helping sell copies of the magazine, but Rolling Stone actually voted him just the #3 greatest singer of all time.

100 Greatest Singers

Granted, Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles are great singers, but putting them ahead of Elvis is just not right. The thumbnail photos are small, so in case you can’t make out the rest of the top ten, they are:

Sam Cooke
John Lennon
Marvin Gaye
Bob Dylan
Otis Redding
Stevie Wonder
James Brown


!00 Greatest Artists of All Time:

100 Greatest Artists

Okay, now the category includes groups as well as singers, so the Beatles move into #1 and the Rolling Stones into #4. Elvis stays at #3, but how does Bob Dylan move from #7 singer to #2 artist? Elvis should be at least #2 on this list, and many folks will argue #1. And what made Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles slide down so far? The only answer I can figure is that the lists were selected a few years apart, and maybe they had different judges.

 Elvis on Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Artists

Look at this cover. Ray Charles has slid completely out of the ten artists shown. Pretty shabby treatment for the guy they voted the second best singer of all time.


500 Greatest Albums of All Time:

500 Greatest Albums of All Time

Granted, Elvis had a better track record with singles than albums. Here are the only three Elvis albums they picked in the top 500:

#11 Sun Sessions
#56 Elvis Presley
#190 From Elvis in Memphis

What about Blue Hawaii that stayed at number one on the Top 40 for twenty straight weeks? What about Elvis is Back which is considered Elvis’ best album by many fans and experts?


100 Best Debut Albums of All Time:

 100 Best Debut Albums

I guess it all depends on what the criteria for best is. Seems like record-breaking sales dwarfing every other album before it would be a big factor. Seems like the degree of hysteria for the artist when it was released would be another. #79 is ridiculous. Rolling Stone magazine just blew this one. If you care, the top spot went to Licensed to Ill by the Beastie Boys.


Bruce Springsteen’s 25 Biggest Heroes:

Bruce Springsteens Biggest Heroes

These aren’t ranked, so there is nothing to quibble about. Rolling Stone did something similar about Elvis’ biggest influences, but it was an article, not a list.


500 Greatest Songs of All Time:

500 Greatest Songs of All Time

This list really bothers me. Here are the eleven Elvis songs that made the top 500. No Elvis songs in the top ten, and none higher than #19.

#19 Hound Dog
#45 Heartbreak Hotel
#67 Jailhouse Rock
#77 Mystery Train
#91 Suspicious Minds
#113 That’s All Right
#200 Don’t Be Cruel
#361 All Shook Up
#403 Can’t Help Falling in Love
$430 Blue Suede Shoes
#441 Love Me Tender

Gimme a break. “All Shook Up” at #361. Unbelievably stupid. For what it’s worth, they picked the top 3 songs as:

Like a Rolling Stone — Bob Dylan
Satisfaction – Rolling Stones
Imagine – John Lennon


Top 25 Teen Idol Breakout Moments:

500 Greatest Songs of All Time

These weren’t ranked, but if they were, the top spot surely would have to be Elvis or the Beatles. The rest don’t come close.


25 Greatest Christmas Albums of All Time:

25 Greatest Christmas Albums of All Time

I think Rolling Stone got this one right. Phil Spector: A Christmas Gift for You is an outstanding album. We graciously accept Elvis in second place.


40 Essential Christmas Albums:

40 Essential Christmas Albums

This doesn’t make sense. Elvis’ Christmas Album is the second greatest of all time, but only the fifth most essential Christmas album. Believe it or not, #1 is Ella Wishes you a Swinging Christmas by Ella Fitzgerald.


22 Weird Creatures Named after Superstars: 

Preseucoila Imallshookupis

I guess after years of doing so many lists, all of the good topics have been used up. Rolling Stone scraped the bottom of the barrel when they came up this one. Here’s what they had to say about the bug named after Elvis: “Gall wasps never had as much swagger as this one. Scientists created a new genus, Preseucoila, based on the name “Presley” – and just to make things extra clear, they named the species Imallshookupis after one of the King’s signature hits.”

I Googled Preseucoila Imallshookupis to see what it looks like. A few bug pictures came up, but they turned out to be something else. This is the best I could find.


© 2013 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved


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Paul McCartney Sings Elvis

Elvis and Paul McCartney

Recently, the official Elvis Presley website presented their selections for The Top 12 Moments for Elvis Presley’s Graceland in 2013.

Top 12 Moments for Elvis Presley's Graceland in 2013

Some of the selections had nothing to do with Graceland, such as Encore Presents the Elvis Movie Collection in May, that came in #6. But there were also notable events that actually occurred at Graceland last year. Top of the list was the voting by USA Today picking Graceland the #1 Iconic Tourist Attraction. Coming in at #5 was Lisa Marie Performs in the Jungle Room.

But, my favorite was #4 – Sir Paul McCartney Visits Graceland for the First Time.

 Paul McCartney Visits Elvis' Graceland


Paul had an interesting visit. He left behind his personal guitar pick, “So Elvis could play his guitar in heaven.” I guess Paul thinks someone there at Graceland has a way to get the guitar pick up to Elvis in heaven. Paul also received a rare special private tour of the Graceland archives. That must have been really cool. Finally, he played Elvis’ famous 1956 Gibson 1200 guitar while humming the “Loving You.”

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I remembered once seeing a YouTube video of Paul McCartney singing “Loving You,” so I searched it out. I found it – plus eight other videos of him doing Elvis songs. Here they are, for you to enjoy, too.


Loving You: I guess you still call it a video, even if there is nothing shown but a photo of Paul and Linda McCartney. However, we can hear Paul do a simple version of the song with acoustic guitar.

Paul and Linda McCartneyClick Here


Lawdy Miss Clawdy: This is quite different. Paul is wearing a black leather jacket and he rocks out with a full band. Great piano work, similar to the way Elvis’ song sounded on This Is Elvis.

Paul McCartney Singing Lawdy Miss Clawdy

Click Here


Let’s Have A Party: I have to admit this performance mirrors Wanda Jackson’s version of the song more than it does Elvis’. The footage is from some sort of BBC program. Joining Paul on stage are David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) and Ian Paice (Deep Purple, Whitesnake). Can you imagine Elvis singing with that kind of back-up crew? I love you Scotty, but Gilmour is just an incredible guitarist.

Paul McCartney and David Gilmour Sing Lets Have A PartyClick Here


That’s Alright Mama: I like this one because someone has spliced footage of Paul singing the song into Elvis’ ’68 Comeback Special performance. What tickles me is that Scotty and DJ are on both clips. Well done.

Elvis doing Thats Allright Mama

Scotty Playing That's Alright Mama

Click Here


Heartbreak Hotel: We’ve all seen singers do an acoustic versions of songs, accompanying themselves on guitar. But for this video, Paul does it on bass. In fact, it is Bill Black’s original upright bass. Paul tells a story about it and then sings a far too short version of “Heartbreak Hotel.”

Paul McCartney Playing Heartbreak Hotel

Click Here


Blue Moon of Kentucky: This is another too-short video, but it is a treat to see and hear George Harrison and Ringo Starr join Paul on an Elvis song.

Paul and George Playing Blue Moon of Kentucky

Click Here


Blue Suede Shoes: You will note that Paul properly dedicates this song to Carl Perkins. However he does mention Elvis’ version of the song. The video was filmed in 1999, and the caption credits it to the RockHall Jam Band. You can enjoy Eric Clapton and Robby Robertson (The Band) do their guitar solos. Look closely and you can spot Bonnie Raitt, Paul Shaffer (David Letterman bandleader) and other people you may recognize.

Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton Singing Blue Suede Shoes

Click Here


All Shook Up: We will end with another BBC screamer featuring Paul McCartney and David Gilmour. Rock on.

Paul McCartney and David Gilmour Singing All Shook Up

Click Here


© 2013 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved


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Songs About Elvis

Three weeks ago, when I was doing research for the article “Elvis Has Left The Building,” I learned something about Wikipedia.  If you type Songs About Elvis in the search box, it comes up with a list of 112 songs.  About half of them were by people or groups I had never heard of, but some of the familiar names have songs with interesting lyrics.  Here is a sampling.

He Was the King – Neil Young

Neil Young wrote this song with many verses that traced Elvis’ entire life as an entertainer.  Except for the reference to pills in one verse, I found it to be the best lyrics in the group.  Unfortunately, it appeared on one of Young’s least popular albums, Prairie Wind.


Back To Tupelo – Mark Knopfler

You may know Mark Knopfler as the front man of the group Dire Straits.  His ode to Elvis song appeared on his solo album Shangri La.




(619) 239-KING – Mojo Nixon

Most of Mojo Nixon’s songs are raunchy and funny, but he played it pretty straight on this CD single release.


Black Velvet – Alannah Myles

I never listened to the lyrics of this big hit closely enough to realize they were about Elvis.


Disgraceland – Alice Cooper

This song was included on his Dragontown album.  I expected the lyrics to be disturbing, and they were.  Here is the only verse worth including.


Elvis – Sister Hazel

I thought this was a woman, but it’s a five-man band.  Their song is more about a velvet Elvis painting than Elvis himself, and it appeared on their Fortress album.


Boy From Tupelo – Emmylou Harris

This soulful song tells of a spurned lover going away and disappearing like the buffalo, Elvis, and the five and dime stores.  Harris included it on her album Red Dirt Girl.


Elvis and I – Denis Leary

I never knew he was a singer as well as a comedian.  I never knew he spelled his name Denis.  I also couldn’t find a picture of the album Other Songs D-K that this one came from.




Elvis and Andy — Confederate Railroad

There are probably plenty of Elvis fans who also love Andy Griffith and the Mayberry gang.  Confederate Railroad celebrates one of them on this song from their album Notorious.


Elvis Has Left the Building – Jerry Reed

Elvis recorded four songs Jerry Reed wrote, including the hits “Guitar Man” and “U.S. Male.”  Reed also had a hit in 1967 with a song about Elvis, “Tupelo Mississippi Flash.”  He wrote a second Elvis song and sang it with other country stars on the album Old Dogs.


Elvis on Velvet – Stray Cats

The Stray Cats patterned their music after the Rockabilly sound of the early Elvis Records.  They also released this single about him.



I Saw Mr. Presley Tip-toeing Through the Tulips – Tiny Tim

Fortunately, the lyrics of this song are better than the artwork on the Tiny Tim album where it appeared.



©  2012    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved



Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.


Baby, I Don’t Care — Some Jerry Leiber Stories

If you read other Elvis websites, you already know about the death of songwriter Jerry Leiber.  The other sites informed you that Leiber and his partner Mike Stoller wrote more than a dozen Elvis hits, including “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock” and “King Creole.”

Jerry Leiber

Mike Stoller, Elvis, Jerry Leiber in 1957

For ElvisBlog, I thought it would be more fun to tell you some Jerry Leiber stories.  They all involve my favorite Elvis song, which happens to be written by Leiber & Stoller. 

Stoller and Leiber in Later Years

My number 1 Elvis song was never a hit.  It was never released as a single, and it was not originally included on any Elvis album.  The song is “(You’re So Square) Baby, I Don’t Care.”

If you don’t immediately recognize this song, just visualize the swimming pool scene in the movie Jailhouse Rock.  In character as Vince Everett, Elvis sings “Baby, I Don’t Care” in front of a cabana, entertaining everyone at a Hollywood pool party he threw.  Elvis is wearing a grey sweater with a distinctive collar.


Leiber & Stoller wrote “Baby I Don’t Care” as part of the soundtrack for Jailhouse Rock.  Here is an unbelievable piece of trivia.  They composed “Jailhouse Rock,”  “Young and Beautiful,” “Treat Me Nice,” “I Want to Be Free,” “Don’t Leave Me Now,” and “Baby, I Don’t Care” in a period of four hours one afternoon.  They wrote an entire movie soundtrack in four hours.  These guys were really good!!

Here’s another oddity.  “Baby, I Don’t Care” was originally released only on an unusual format that saw some popularity in the 50s and early 60s:  It was the EP (Extended Play).  EPs looked like regular 45 singles, except there were two songs on each side.  Elvis released over twenty-five EPs in his history, including one titled Jailhouse Rock.  However, it had five songs on it, every song from the movie, except “Treat Me Nice.”


The EP Jailhouse Rock was an inexpensive way for kids to get a bunch of good songs, and it sold like crazy.  It entered the Billboard EP Chart at Number 1, and it stayed there for 22 consecutive weeks.   It dropped down to Number 2 for a week, and then bounced back and stayed Number 1 for six more weeks.  “Baby, I Don’t Care” was part of the best-selling Elvis EP ever, with over one million sales.  Leiber & Stoller wrote every song on it.

Even though Jailhouse Rock was a huge movie, there never was a soundtrack album.  What a missed opportunity.  RCA could have kept all six Leiber & Stoller songs together and added some filler songs and had a hit album.

There is one more piece of strange trivia involving “Baby, I Don’t Care.”  When Elvis sings the song in the movie, there are camera shots from close in and long shots from the opposite side of the pool.  They were filmed at different times, and when the long shots were filmed, the sun was shining right on the band.  Here is a close-up shot.


Notice that Scotty Moore is not wearing sunglasses.  Now, the long shot:


If you look close, Scotty is wearing Sunglasses.  Maybe the studio was missing their continuity person that day.

My wife can’t believe my favorite Elvis song is “Baby, I Don’t Care.”  She asks, “Why not Hound Dog” or “All Shook Up?”  I love all of the early Elvis songs, but I’ve heard the big hits so many times they don’t move me like they used too.  However, “Baby I Don’t Care” still sounds new. 

I like to remind my wife that the greatness of the song has been extolled by a pretty important icon of the music world.  Back in the early 90s, MTV often had “Guest VJs” who would showcase their favorite music videos.  One night a true rock god did the show.  It was Robert Plant, lead singer of the legendary heavy metal band, Led Zeppelin. 



For one of his music videos, Plant chose the film clip of Elvis singing “Baby, I Don’t Care” in Jailhouse Rock.  He called it the best Elvis song that was never released as a single.  So, I’m not the only person who really likes the song.

In their partnership, Mike Stoller wrote the music and Jerry Leiber wrote the lyrics.  So, as a last tribute to Jerry Leiber, here are the words he wrote for “Baby, I Don’t Care.”

You don’t like crazy music.
You don’t like rockin’ bands.
You just wanna go to a movie show,
And sit there holdin’ hands.
You’re so square.
Baby, I don’t care.

You don’t like hotrod racin’
Or drivin’ late at night.
You just wanna park where it’s nice and dark.
You just wanna hold me tight.
You’re so square.
Baby, I don’t care.

You don’t know any dance steps that are new,
But no one else could love me like you do, do, do, do.

I don’t know why my heart flips.
I only know it does.
I wonder why I love you, baby.
I guess it’s just because
You’re so square.

Baby, I don’t care.


Thank you, Jerry Leiber.  You gave us some great songs.


©  2011    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.


Two More Elvis Record Oddities

The recent Ultimate Elvis Auction in Memphis contained a treasure trove of delightfully odd Elvis records.  In an article a couple of weeks ago, we covered two that paired Elvis with other singers  Here are two more, and they both have origins with Elvis movies.

Flaming Star on Blue Vinyl:

Elvis’ 1960 movie Flaming Star went through a series of title changes:  Flaming Lance, Flaming Heart, Black Heart, Black Star and finally Flaming Star.  On August 8, 1960, Elvis went into Radio Recorders studio in Hollywood and recorded the title track, which at that time was “Black Star.”  Sometime within the next two months, the title was changed to Flaming Star, so a new title song needed to be recorded.  It was a simple matter for songwriters Sid Wayne and Sherman Edwards to change the lyrics of “Black Star.”  Within the Indian mythology of the film, either a ‘black star’ or a ‘flaming star’ worked as a vision some Indians claimed to see as a sign of impending death. 



So, the producers had the new song they needed for Elvis to record, but they still had a bigger obstacle to contend with — Elvis’ manager, Colonel Tom Parker

When they met with Parker, they quickly realized he had them boxed.  They needed a rerecorded title song, and it had to be done in a big rush.  Well, if you know Col. Parker very well, you can appreciate his next move.  He asked for more money.  According to different reports, he demanded either $5,000 or $10,000.  Either way, that was a lot of money fifty years ago.

Col. Parker called it his ‘late fee’ — and they paid it.  Elvis recorded “Flaming Star” at Radio Recorders studio on October 7, 1960.   When he finished, the studio gave a 45 RPM copy of the song to Parker.

In addition to the title cut on the A-side, the B-side is “A Cane and a High Starched Collar.”  This song was sung in the family’s cabin during the first few minutes of the film.  From that point on, there was no more Elvis singing.


“Flaming Star” Title Song on Blue Vinyl

As you can see, the record is blue vinyl with no printing other than Elvis’ name and the song title.  Recently this record failed to sell at the Ultimate Elvis Auction, because no one met the minimum starting bid of $1,500 ($1,792.50 including auctioneer’s fee.)  It seems like it would be worth more than that, because it is the only known copy, and likely the only copy in existence.


Record Sleeve Movie Prop:



This looks like this could be the picture sleeve for an Elvis 45 RPM single, but that’s not his name on it.  So, who is Guy Lambert?  He is the lead character in Elvis’ 1967 movie Double Trouble.  In the movie, Elvis plays Lambert, a singer who travels the world with his band Georgie and his G-Men. 



In the movie, Elvis/Guy goes into the Peca Records studio, and records the song “Could I Fall in Love.”  One night, Guy is with his girlfriend in her apartment, and as a surprise, he puts his record on the turntable.  Then he proceeds to sing a duet with himself.  It must have soothed her, because she was asleep on his shoulder at the end.


Guy Lambert Putting His Record on Turntable


Although the picture sleeve appeared on screen for just five seconds, the MGM prop people created a very real looking fake record to use in the movie. The disc inside was just a generic 45, because it wasn’t seen close-up in the scene.  As far is known, just one copy of the sleeve was made.


Close Up of Record in the Movie Double Trouble

This phony record sleeve has changed hands a few times, most recently at the Ultimate Elvis Auction in Memphis.  Because it was presented as a one-of-a-kind item in mint condition, the high bid was $5,000, plus the auctioneer’s fee of $975.50.  How about that?  $6,000 for an empty, phony 45 record sleeve.  Only with Elvis.

I did equally bad predicting how the bidding would end up on these two records with movie origins.  I never thought the picture sleeve would bring so much, and I figured the only copy of blue vinyl “Burning Star” would top out over $3,000.  Shows how much I know.


©  2010    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved

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So, Was “Hound Dog” A Number 1 Hit, Or Not?

If you were asked to guess what Elvis’ ten biggest hits were, would you have “Hound Dog” on your list?  Certainly.  How about one of his five biggest hits?  Very likely, as well.  So, it may come as a surprise to you that “Hound Dog” was never credited as a Number 1 hit on the esteemed Billboard list generally considered the official word on this sort of thing.  How can that be?

I asked myself that question when a recent article appeared on the Elvis-History Blog, written by my friend Alan Hanson.  It was titled, “Elvis's #2 Recordings Help Make Him #1 on the Charts.”  Alan started his wonderful blog two years ago.  He read a number of ElvisBlog columns as part of his research in deciding to start his own site, but he did not go back to my June, 2007 article titled “Elvis – King of the Number 2 Hits.”   So, in our efforts to come up with another new topic each week, we both thought of the same idea — independently and years apart.

The weird thing was that Alan’s list of Elvis’ Number 2 hits and mine had different songs on them.  We both agreed on four songs:

“Burning Love”
“Return To Sender”
“Can’t Help Falling in Love”
“A Fool Such as I”

I had two Number 2 songs in my blog that Alan did not:

“Wear My Ring Around Your Neck”
“Love Me”

And he had three songs in his list of Number 2 hits that I had at Number 1.

“Hard Headed Woman”
“Too Much”
“Hound Dog”

Here’s why this occurred.  On August 4, 1958, Billboard magazine first published their Hot 100 chart, and it has continued for more than a half-century to be the industry standard for reporting hit songs.  However, Billboard originally got into ranking the hits on January 1, 1955, when it started publishing three lists:

Best Sellers in Stores
Most Played by [Disc] Jockeys
Most Played in Juke Boxes

I found a complete copy of the January 26, 1957 issue of Billboard magazine on line, Here is a look at these three charts

These were short charts, containing just 20 or 25 top hits.  Do you remember, in the movie Jailhouse Rock, what job Judy Tyler’s character had when she met Elvis?   She went around and collected the statistics about song plays on jukeboxes.  Although she was reporting to a record company, I imagine it was people like her who provided Billboard with the data they used to compile their Most Played in Juke Boxes chart.

On November 12, 1955, a little more than ten months after the first three lists were born, Billboard added a fourth: the Top 100 chart.  Gradually, over the next few years, this became the most definitive list, because it generally reported the aggregate positions of songs on the other three lists combined.

By the time Billboard changed the name of the Top 100 chart to the Hot 100 chart in August 1958, the other three charts were either recently eliminated or would be soon thereafter.  However, they lasted long enough to confuse the tally of Elvis songs that made it to Number 1.

Alan and I used different references to come up with our reports on Elvis’ Number 2 hits.  He actually went to his local library and accessed the microfiche records for every weekly Billboard Top 100/Hot 100 chart from 1956 to 1977 and recorded the rankings of the Elvis songs.  It took him almost a year to gather all this information.  I simply used a book titled The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits by Joel Whitburn.  Every singer or group who ever had a hit is listed, along with a discography of their hits.  In the book, Whitburn acknowledged that for the period 1955 through July 1958, the highest chart position indicated for each song was its highest on any of the four Billboard charts.

So, to determine the highest rank that Elvis’ early records reached, I referenced all of the Billboard charts.   Alan referenced only the Top 100 chart, which is reasonable because it ultimately morphed into the Hot 100 chart that endures to this day.


Original 1956 Picture Sleeves

I wouldn’t argue adamantly about the proper top ranking for most of the records where Alan and I had it different, but I would for “Hound Dog.”  As you may know, it was half of the biggest two-sided hit record in history.  Depending on how you look at it, “Hound Dog” was on the flip-side of “Don’t Be Cruel,” or vice-a-versa.  For this reason, Whitburn’s book went into great detail about how long both songs stayed at Number 1 on all four lists.  “Hound Dog” was Number 1 for four weeks on the Jukebox chart and five weeks on the Stores chart.

So, I rest my case.  “Hound Dog” spent nine weeks as Number 1 on two of the Billboard charts in operation during the period of its run.  They were well-established charts that had over a year-and-a-half of pedigree behind them.    In the summer of 1956, the Top 100 chart was only nine months old, and it is uncertain where it stood at that point in its ultimate elevation to top dog status.  So, if a song achieved Number 1 then on any of the four charts, it should be enough to claim that rank.  “Hound Dog” made it to the top on two of the charts, so that settles it for me.

If you aren’t convinced, call the folks at Graceland and see if they count “Hound Dog” as a Number 1 hit for Elvis.  They will probably laugh that you would even have to ask.

 Re-Release from 1959

[Editor's note:  Alan Hanson has since published a difinitive history of the chart positions of “Hound Dog” and “Don't Be Cruel” on his Elvis-History-Blog.  Check it out.]


©  2010    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.


The upcoming 30th Anniversary celebration will generate stories about Elvis in all sorts of media.  Many of these feature articles will mention the fact that Elvis had eighteen #1 hits.  What they won’t mention is that Elvis also had a record six #2 hits.  These songs sold over a million copies each and spent many weeks on the Top 40 charts, but they had unfortunate timing for their release and got stalled behind some of Rock & Roll’s monster hits.  Let’s take a look at the six Elvis songs in reverse chronological order.  All statistical information comes from a reference I have used for over twenty years: “The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits.”


Burning Love:  This was Elvis’ highest-ranking song during the last seven years of his career, but it was kept from the top spot by the only #1 hit for another legend, Chuck Berry.  It’s hard to believe Berry’s songs like “School Day,” “Sweet Little Sixteen” and “Johnny B. Goode” never reached #1, but his 1972 novelty song “My Ding-A-Ling” did.  It stayed on top for two weeks and effectively blocked Elvis.  However, “Burning Love” is a classic that became a staple of his concerts, and it stayed in the Top 40 for twelve weeks.


Return To Sender:  In 1962 this song stayed at #2 for an unbelievable five weeks, and it was blocked from the top by the same song for the entire period.  So what was the powerhouse single that denied Elvis #1?  It was “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by the Four Seasons.  1962 was the year they blasted onto the music scene, and their first three releases (not counting a Christmas song) spent a combined thirteen weeks at #1.  It was a pretty good year for Elvis, too, with “Good Luck Charm” going to #1 and six other singles ranking on the charts.  “Return To Sender” stayed in the Top 40 for a total of fourteen weeks.


Can’t Help Falling In Love:  This was one of those six other hits in 1962, making it a year of double frustration for Elvis.  “Can’t Help Falling In Love” had the misfortune of trying to buck the early 60s twist fad.  During the one week it reached #2, it was sandwiched between two twist songs.  “The Twist” by Chubby Checker was #3 and dropping after it’s second reign as #1 (the other was in the Fall of 1960).  No other song has ever gone to #1 twice in different years.  The song that kept Elvis from the top was “Peppermint Twist” by Joey Dee and The Starlighters.  “Can’t Help Falling In Love” stayed in the Top 40 for twelve weeks.


A Fool Such As I:  Elvis was still in the Army in 1959, but the vault of songs he recorded before going to Germany produced four hits, including “A Big Hunk of Love” at #1.  Next best was “A Fool Such As I,” and it stalled at #2 behind “Come Softly To Me” by the Fleetwoods, which claimed the top spot for four weeks.  “A Fool Such As I” spent eleven weeks in the Top 40.  However, it fared better in England, where it was #1 for five weeks.


Wear My Ring Around Your Neck:  In April 1958, this song entered the Billboard charts at #7 – the highest entry position of any Elvis single.  It was certified a million seller based on advance orders alone.  With momentum like that, how could “Wear My Ring Around Your Neck” not make it to #1?  It was blocked blocked by the novelty song “Witch Doctor” by David Seville, who later created Alvin and the Chipmunks.  “Wear My Ring Around your Neck” stayed in the Top 40 for thirteen weeks.


Love Me:  Elvis entered 1957 with five #1 hits already to his credit (“Jailhouse Rock,” “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Hound Dog,” and “Love Me Tender”).  He would achieve four more in 1957 (“Too Much,” “All Shook Up,” “Teddy Bear,” and “Jailhouse Rock).  ”Love Me” stalled at #2 for two weeks, but this is quite an achievement for a song that was not released as a single.  It was one of four songs on the EP Elvis, Volume 1.  EPs (Extended Play) were in essence 45-RPM mini-albums.  Elvis, Volume 1 was released on the same day as Elvis’ first album Elvis.  The four songs were also in the album, and the EP cover had the same picture.  “Love Me” was blocked by a huge hit “Singing The Blues” by Guy Mitchell.  “Singing The Blues” stayed at #1 for ten straight weeks.  If that sounds like it ought to be a record, it is not.  The longest stay at # 1 belongs to Elvis.  “Don’t Be Cruel” sat at #1 for 11 weeks, and the next week, the flip-side “Hound Dog” moved into the top spot.


For what it’s worth, Elvis also had three songs stalled at 3#.  “Devil In Disguise” and “Crying in the Chapel” in 1963, and “In The Ghetto” in 1969.


©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved


“A Little Less Conversation” was the surprise hit of 2002, and it introduced Elvis to a whole new generation of fans who had never heard “Heartbreak Hotel” or “All Shook Up.”  It probably has the most interesting story of any of Elvis’ #1 hits.  For starters, how many songs top the charts thirty-four years after they are recorded?


In 1968, Elvis filmed one of his last movies, Live A Little, Love A Little.  The musical director needed to come up with a song for a scene where Elvis tries to get a beautiful girl to leave a swimming pool with him.  Budding songwriter Mac Davis got the assignment.  Davis had already penned “A Little Less Conversation” in hopes Aretha Franklin would record it, but she showed no interest, so he submitted it for the Elvis movie.  It was the beginning of an association with Elvis that produced the hit songs “Memories,” “In The Ghetto,” and “Don’t Cry Daddy.”  It was also a significant step in Mac Davis’ own career, as he later became a major recording artist, with hits of his own like “Stop and Smell The Roses” (#9) and “Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me” (#1).


In the late 60’s, many of Elvis’ singles came from movie soundtracks, and although Live A Little, Love A Little was a box-office bomb, that didn’t stop the tradition.  “Almost In Love” was released as the A-side, backed with “A Little Less Conversation.”  “Almost in Love” peaked at #98, but enough DJ’s flipped the record over and played the other side that “A Little Less Conversation” entered the charts for four weeks, peaking at #69.


Later in 1968, Elvis recorded another version of “A little Less Conversation” for a production number in the ’68 Comeback Special.  It was cut from the final show, but it did make it into the special’s soundtrack album.  Then, for the next thirty-four years, the song languished in obscurity.


That changed in 2002 when Nike Corp. wanted a special song to use in their promotional ad blitz during the TV broadcasts of the soccer World Cup.  Nike’s theme for their sports shoes at that time was “Just Do It,” and someone on their staff suggested the “less talk and more action” lyrics of “A Little Less Conversation’ would be perfect for the campaign.  The brain trust at Nike agreed but thought the original arrangement was dated and needed to be revved up for the modern age. 


Soon, they connected with a Dutch musician and producer, Tom Holkenburg, who modestly described himself as a “master alchemist, electronic daredevil, and breaker of sound barriers.”  He was one of Europe’s hottest producers, and much of his work had been in advertising music.  His specialties were industrial rock and techno, and he did his thing under the pseudonym JXL.  J stood for “junky”, XL stood for “expanding the limits” of music.  JXL stirred up a truly incredible mix of techno sounds, all built around the original vocals and accompaniment. 


The Nike ad featuring “ A Little Less Conversation” appeared on television all over Europe in the spring of 2002.  The music was so popular that people called the stations and asked to hear the ad again and inquired where they could buy the CD.  When RCA/BMG Records heard about this, it didn’t take them long to oblige.  They put out a CD with three versions of “A Little Less Conversation” on it: a three-minute thirty-second version for radio play, a six-minute version as a dance track, and the one-minute thirty-nine-second 1968 original.


“A Little Less Conversation” soon topped the charts in over thirty countries all over Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and of course, the USA.  However, the strange story didn’t end here.  The multi-platinum CD Elvis’s Thirty #1 Hits came out a short time later.  You probably have a copy, so check out the song list.  There are actually thirty-one songs.  RCA/BMG added “A Little Less Conversation” to boost sales, and the fans got a bonus song.


“A Little Less Conversation” certainly proved one thing.  Elvis may be dead, but his music and influence live on.


©  2006 Philip R Arnold